Holiday Scams Take Sophisticated Turn – Thanks to AI

( – Scammers upping their game around the holidays is nothing new, but scammers using artificial intelligence (AI) to steal identities and wipe bank accounts has completely changed the game. Online shopping has hit record highs this year, with consumers spending $270 billion during the holiday season. Tracking packages has become a pastime for some consumers who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of that special gift. Scammers are now using AI to generate phishing emails that appear authentic to consumers, tricking some into clicking links or giving away account information.

The FBI reported $73 million in successful scams last season. Researchers believe that AI likely played a role then, given that email phishing scams increased by 1,265 percent in 2022. However, AI platforms like ChatGPT have been recreated for fraudulent purposes like phishing, and scammers have also figured out how to “jailbreak” ChatGPT for fraudulent purposes. FraudGPT is one spinoff that allows scammers to target individual consumers with phishing emails that are free of errors and strikingly similar to legitimate emails from real companies.

Artificial Intelligence Policy Chair at Pikes Peak State College, Dennis Natali, provided a list to KOAA called the “12 frauds of Christmas.” The list contained the common types of tactics that scammers have had success using for many years. Natali noted that AI technology could increase the number of phishing scams this season, in addition to giving the authentic edge needed for scammers to have more success. Google and other companies have mounted a defense to save companies and consumers from falling victim to AI scammers.

In late November, Google launched RETVec, which helps scan emails for spam based on AI manipulation of text, which is often used to sneak past filters. Norton is also aiming to ruin the holidays for would-be scammers with its app called Norton Genie. It scans for phishing messages and allows consumers to submit suspicious emails and links to be evaluated by the tool.

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